Category: Academic Departments
For success in business and life, a network of developers is key
Time was when the right training, a promising job opportunity, and the support of a senior colleague were enough to advance in your career. Those days are gone.
In a world where, at every moment, the economy is globalizing, technology is developing, and the workplace is changing, it takes much more to achieve success, regardless of the industry. To keep pace with these current realities, making relationships through which we can learn new skills, develop new opportunities, and build effective collaborations is essential, according to Kathy Kram, Richard C. Shipley Professor in Management at Boston University School of Management.
Kram and Wendy Murphy, associate professor of management at Babson College, have published a new book titled Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life (McGraw-Hill), which provides guidelines for building relationships that are crucial to personal success. The book draws upon 30 years of research to offer practical advice on mentoring, coaching, mentoring circles, and developmental networks—advice that is key to staying ahead in an environment with ever-shifting trends.
“These trends make us all novices over and over again as we necessarily move to a new job, new organization, or new country,” Kram says. “It’s almost impossible to be an expert for very long.”
This is where supportive work relationships play a critical role.
“Finding a mentor is no longer sufficient,” Kram says. “Instead, each of us has to build a network of developers that can help us to continuously learn, innovate, and work with others.”
In three parts, Strategic Relationships at Work gives readers a guide to identifying high-quality relationships, how to build them, and what to do when they go awry.
The first part of the book provides an overview of what makes for high-quality relationships and gives the reader a number of assessment tools to create a personal strategy for building an effective circle of mentors, sponsors, and peers. Kram and Murphy argue that you must first know yourself—your values, goals, interests, talents and limitations—before you can begin to build supportive relationships. Once this self-knowledge is developed, it’s up to you to assess whether you have relationships in place that can help you achieve your aspirations.
From there, the authors offer strategies for building different types of relationships and invites those in leadership positions to foster developmental relationships in their organizations through formal programs, their own efforts to build effective alliances, and rewarding others for doing so.
What if things sour? When is it time to “break up” with your mentor? The third part of the book outlines how to end a relationship that has gone awry to minimize negative impact on your career. Via case examples of “tor-mentors,” Kram and Murphy illustrate the “red flags” that suggest when a relationship is no longer mutually beneficial, and offer specific communication tactics for ending it and moving on.
With this book in hand,” Kram says, “you will be able to form mutually rewarding relationships at work, create strong connections with meaning and purpose, and experience greater satisfaction and success—in business and life.”
Strategic Relationships at Work: Creating Your Circle of Mentors, Sponsors, and Peers for Success in Business and Life is available for purchase here.
From Restuccia, J., Mohr, D., Meterko, M., Stolzmann, K., Kaboli, P., (2014). The Association of Hospital Characteristics and Quality Improvement Activities in Inpatient Medical Services. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 5(29), 715-722.
All eyes have been on health care in the US as of late, with the quality of its services under much scrutiny. Deficiencies in patient care have been well reported and documented, but knowledge is scant about the degree to which hospitals are implementing systematic actions or practices to remedy the situation.
A new paper by Joseph Restuccia, Boston University School of Management professor of operations and technology management and dean’s research fellow, investigates the extent to which hospitals are engaging in quality improvement activities (QIAs), or factors influencing the extent of QIAs—data-guided activities designed to bring about immediate improvement in health care delivery. Co-authored by David Mohr, Mark Meterko, Kelly Stolzmann, and Peter Kaboli, the paper, “The Association of Hospital Characteristics and Quality Improvement Activities in Inpatient Medical Services,” appears this month in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The group specifically sought to identify the level of QIAs in the Veterans Administration’s (VA) 124 acute care hospitals, as well as factors associated with widespread adoption of QIAs, particularly the use of hospitalists (physicians who specialize in the practice of hospital medicine), non-physician providers, and the extent of goal alignment between senior managers and the inpatient service on commitment to quality. They identified 27 QIAs and classify them in three separate domains:
- Prevention: activities to prevent adverse reactions among patients, such as contracting bedsores or other infections
- Information-gathering: activities to improve the hospital’s knowledge base to improve quality, such as learning best practices within or outside industry, or conducting a management walkaround to raise awareness of the state of the institution
- Infrastructure: the basis on which you can build quality improvement programs and evidence-based practice guidelines; clinicians meet to discuss a topic of interest
Their study of the VA, the largest integrated health system in the US, resulted in three major findings. First, of the three domains, VA hospitals have devoted the most substantial effort to prevention-related QIAs to date. Second, where there is a close alignment of goals between senior managers and inpatient medical service leadership, there is a greater likelihood of QIA use. Finally, medical centers that employ hospitalists display the highest QIA-adoption rates across all three categories.
For senior leaders and clinicians, a key takeaway from the study is the importance of effectively communicating goals and aligning them throughout the organization, a significant factor in improving quality of care.
Read “The Association of Hospital Characteristics and Quality Improvement Activities in Inpatient Medical Services” here.
Boston University School of Management Professors Yrjo Koskinen and Rui Albuquerque, along with Art Durnev, associate professor of finance at the University of Iowa, have been awarded the 2014 Standard Life Investments prize for best paper in the European Corporate Governance Institute’s (ECGI) Finance Working Paper series. This annual prize, sponsored by global asset manager Standard Life Investments, was awarded for their research paper in which they create an industry equilibrium model where firms can choose to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
As part of the 2014 ECGI Working Paper Competition, Koskinen and Albuquerque were presented the award at a ceremony held at the Royal Academy of Belgium in Brussels. The professors’ paper was chosen from 53 others published in the ECGI’s finance series, making this year’s selection the most competitive to date, according to ECGI director of communications Jeremy Miller.
“It’s a great honor to receive the best finance paper award from the ECGI,” says Albuquerque, associate professor of finance and dean’s research fellow. “Being selected as the top paper among the best papers in the profession that make it to the ECGI list is incredible validation of this work by both peers and industry leaders.”
Their paper, “Corporate Social Responsibility and Firm Risk: Theory and Empirical Evidence,” models CSR activities as an investment in customer loyalty and shows that CSR decreases systematic risk and increases firm value. The award represents CSR’s growing relevance among finance scholars, which, according to Koskinen, is a significant achievement.
“CSR as a topic has received scant attention from the academic finance community,” says Koskinen, assistant professor of finance. “As our results show, CSR has lowered cost of capital for many firms and thus created value for shareholders. CSR is too important of a topic to be ignored. This recognition certainly encourages us to keep working on the topic.”
The professors’ paper was previously awarded a research grant by the BSI Gamma Foundation in 2012, as well as the best paper award at the inaugural Geneva Summit on Sustainable Finance in 2013.
Founded in 2002, the ECGI is an international scientific non-profit association that provides a forum for debate and dialogue between academics, legislators, and practitioners, focusing on major corporate governance issues. Standard Life Investments is a leading asset manager that manages $311.1 billion on behalf of clients worldwide. It has sponsored the Finance Prize for best paper since 2005.
Fournier outlines steps to getting more value out of social media brand-chatter
Last month, Susan Fournier, Questrom Professor in Management and professor of marketing, advised marketers in the Harvard Business Review: Think like an anthropologist. Instead of breaking down big data into percentages and meaningless numbers, tap into social media chatter to get a real glimpse into how consumers are living and thinking. A single comment or photo posted about a company’s product can impact its consumer knowledge and its profitability—don’t ignore it.
In a follow-up to her piece on this anthropological approach to big data, Fournier, once again in collaboration with Bob Rietveld, managing director and cofounder of Oxyme, delves deeper into the value of social listening and offers further instruction: Think like a market researcher. The information gained from social listening can be as robust a source of strategic inspiration as any must-have diagnostics on the dashboard, the pair writes. Not to mention, social listening is inexpensive and efficient, because surveying is unnecessary: unsolicited comments from consumers are already out there, awaiting analysis.
Fournier and Rietveld outline four steps to getting more value out of social media brand-chatter:
Make sure the quality of your social-listening data is good.
Like all data, the information you glean from social media should be subject to market-research protocols for reliability and validity. Ask the same kinds of tough questions you’d ask about any research project. Are the data drawn from the entire social-media landscape? Is the sampling of comments statistically sound? Is the system of data classification, in terms of topics, themes, and sentiments, accurate? Does your automated coding allow for idiomatic meanings, as in “This brand is the s—t”? The insights you get from social media are only as good as the data set you create.
Don’t make your social-media data stand alone.
Information from social listening must be correlated with other streams of data that the company is using. For example, in an analysis we performed for a transport company, we found that complaints shared on daily Twitter feeds tracked 90% with the content of customer-service comments registered by phone or mail. Linkages like this go a long way toward speeding the adoption of social-media data as a valid strategic-insight source.
Think about “impact” and not just ROI.
Marketing managers tend to take too narrow a view of social listening, seeing it merely as a way to measure the return on investment of specific marketing campaigns. For example, an electric-toothbrush maker that had launched a campaign to woo “non-electric” brushers was dismayed to learn that the resulting burst of social-media activity came mostly from existing users. It branded the campaign a flop and moved on.
In so doing, the company overlooked the value of what it had found on social-media sites. Users were sharing positive stories, advocating electric brushing, and in some cases expressing their love of the company’s brand. The company was getting a rare unfiltered look at how consumers were living the impact of the company’s strategies and brands.
Be sure your social-listening analyses make their way out of the marketing-research department
and into the wider organization, including leadership circles. Don’t let the information stay bottled up in the departments that collected and “own” the data. That means establishing a common analytical currency and language throughout the company so that managers can take action and be held accountable. One company we worked with created a Center for Digital Excellence to coordinate data on a vast brand portfolio. The company tied the digital indicators to bonus compensations, signaling C-level commitment to the program. It’s that kind of high-level integration that enables companies to focus efforts and resources effectively, creating value for the firm.
View the full piece here.
Real value is created through meaningful innovation and adoption—not from smoke and mirror deception
Mark T. Williams, Boston University School of Management executive-in-residence and master lecturer of finance, warns against the peer-to-peer electronic payment network Bitcoin in a wide range of media commentary, arguing that investors across the globe should steer clear of this “dangerous speculative bubble” and its “get-rich-quick mindset.”
Excerpts from Williams’s commentary for WBUR (Dec. 5, 2013):
Bitcoin is not a futuristic currency but a speculative mania. Greed is pushing prices skyward but fear will quickly bring those same prices crashing back to earth. Investors need to separate the promising technological innovation of digital currency from the Bitcoin Ponzi scheme that will harm those that fail to exit before the bottom falls out.
Bitcoin is another example of “market innovation” that deserves closer scrutiny from the Securities and Exchange Commission. SEC Chairman Mary Jo White has said virtual currency itself may not be considered a “security,” but interest issued or returns gained by it likely would be and therefore subject to regulation. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told Congress that the Fed “does not necessarily have authority to directly supervise or regulate these innovations.” And the Justice Department says Bitcoin is legal, but that doesn’t mean it is adequately market tested, investment safe and ready to be a global currency.
Bitcoin is not a currency with intrinsic value but a hyper bubble fueled by a get-rich-quick mindset.
Excerpts from The Washington Post blog “The Switch” (Dec. 10. 2013):
In recent weeks, some Bitcoin critics have been rethinking their initial Bitcoin skepticism. But others are as convinced as ever that the cryptocurrency is doomed. One of the harshest critics is Mark Williams, who teaches finance at the Boston University School of Management. He predicts that in the first half of 2014, bitcoins will lose almost 99 percent of their value, falling below $10.
Timothy B. Lee: What informs your thinking about the future of Bitcoin?
Mark Williams: I used to be the senior vice president of a commodity trading firm in Boston. I’m very familiar with commodity prices with high volatility. For example, energy prices would have swings of 400 to 500 percent in a year. That’s significant price movement.
But Bitcoin is in a universe of its own. Right now Bitcoin is looking at price movements as high as 8000 percent since January. It moved from $13 per bitcoin to a high of $1200. So what we see then is considerable risk associated with Bitcoin.
At least with a commodity like power, natural gas or oil, there’s an underlying value. That product can be used for something. With Bitcoin, it’s a virtual commodity, so there’s no backing. In essence, Bitcoin is worth something as long as you or I are willing to sell things for it. But if you say I’d rather have $1,000 than a bitcoin, Bitcoin is going to drop like a rock.
Excerpt from Williams’s interview on “Bitcoin’s future in Europe and the US” for The Voice of Russia (Dec. 20, 2013):
Bitcoin…has too much movement to be used as a medium of exchange….With any currency, you have to have trust in that currency, and you have to have stability….In the last two weeks, we’ve seen a drop of almost 50%. It’s almost like a roller-coaster out of control.
Srinivasan on effective subject lines in email marketing
Email marketing is a key strategy for retailers looking to spread the word about holiday shopping deals. But not just any email, Erika Morphy writes in CRM Buyer—mobile email. A full 48 percent of email is now opened on a mobile device, according to Ashley Twist, senior innovation strategist of mobility at Engauge. Now more than ever, consumers are using their mobile devices in stores for last-minute product research, including email offers from local merchants, the pieces notes.
In order to provide a high-quality mobile experience for consumers, marketers must be familiar with the best practices in mobile email marketing, particularly with crafting an effective subject line, on which Boston University School of Management professor of marketing Shuba Srinivasan weighs in:
“Subject lines make the first impression,” Boston University professor Shuba Srinivasan told CRM Buyer. “They need to be inviting enough to not give away the whole email, concise enough that they fit on the screen of all devices and clear enough that people know why you’re sending an email.”
Read the full piece here.
To Understand Consumer Data, Think Like an Anthropologist
Harvard Business Review featured a piece from Questrom Professor in Management Susan Fournier and Bob Rietveld, managing director and cofounder of Netherlands-based marketing analytics firm Oxyme, in which the two write that the meaning within consumer data lies with social media, such as pictures and comments on products, not with percentages. Focusing on social-media chatter can have a profound impact on a firm’s consumer knowledge and, consequently, its profitability. Unfortunately, the piece notes, many people in business don’t appreciate the value of that chatter. Rather than treat consumer comments as noise, use social media as a glimpse into the consumer’s life and discover how he or she is really living. In other words, think like an anthropologist.
“Sure, sure,” the numbers-oriented marketing executives may say. Social listening is great for “exploratory” research, but only as a precursor to “real” research that will determine the truth of what’s being said online. What’s needed, they’ll tell you, is broad-based consumer research using representative samples and adequate sample sizes.
Querying a representative sample is great for testing a hypothesis or finding a statistical relationship between known concepts. But often, in marketing, you’re dealing with multiple unknowns. Social listening doesn’t presuppose anything. It has no constraints. Although qualitative information won’t give you a simple equation or statistic that you can show the CEO, it can provide answers to questions you didn’t even know you had.
And comments from a non-representative sample can be highly illuminating. For example, in tech markets, think of the users who regularly post to discussion groups focused on tech products. These knowledgeable netizens provide critical knowledge about product uptake and issues around quality or perception. The same can be said of fan groups and user groups in a variety of fields.
An important player in the electric-shaver category discovered this. Before the launch of a high-end shaver that was to be priced at more than $500 and was encased in brushed aluminum, an Australian retailer posted pictures and specifications of the product online. Almost immediately, consumers began commenting about the product’s “plastic aesthetic” and “cheap look and feel.” The manufacturer took prompt action, posting a new photo series highlighting the quality manufacturing process and construction, neutralizing the negative sentiment spreading online.
Successfully disseminating the results of social listening requires skill at seeing stories and developing insights from messy data. It also requires a penchant for simplicity.
Read the full piece here.
Boston University School of Management is delighted to welcome our new full-time faculty members and to extend congratulations on the following recent hires and promotions:
New Associate and Assistant Professors
Associate Professor, Finance
Dirk Hackbarth earned both his PhD and MS at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley; his MSc at the London School of Economics; and a diploma in business economics at the University of Cologne. As an internationally leading scholar in dynamic corporate finance, his research focuses on capital structure, distress risk, corporate investment, mergers and acquisitions, and real options. His papers have been presented at many competitive conferences and published in a variety of top-tier academic journals. He currently serves as associate editor of Management Science and Review of Finance. Recent appointments include the Robert and Karen May Faculty Fellow and associate professor of finance, College of Business, University of Illinois.
Olga Hawn received her PhD in 2013 from Duke University, her master’s from the University of Oxford, and her bachelor’s and master’s from Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics. Her research focuses on global strategy issues from a neo-institutional perspective, particularly the effect of legitimization on firm performance. Her work also places special emphasis on corporate social responsibility issues. Olga’s scholarship has been selected for AoM’s Best Paper Proceedings, SIM Division Best Paper Award, as well as nominated for SMS Best Paper Award. She has been published in Research Policy and serves on the editorial board for Strategic Management Journal.
Assistant Professor, Markets, Public Policy & Law
Koichiro Ito holds a PhD in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California, Berkeley; an MA in economics from the University of British Columbia; and a BA in economics from Kyoto University. His research focuses on environmental and energy economics, industrial organization, and public economics. He has work forthcoming in the American Economic Review and served as a postdoctoral fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, as well as a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. Other honors include the UC Berkeley Competition Policy Center Dissertation Award and the Resources for the Future Joseph L. Fisher Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship.
Elizabeth (Bess) D. Rouse
Assistant Professor, Organizational Behavior
Bess Rouse earned both her PhD in management and organization in 2013 and her MS in organization studies from Boston College, and her SB in brain and cognitive sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on the experience of creative workers in contexts such as entrepreneurship, video game design, modern dance, and product development. Prior to pursuing her doctorate, Bess worked at McLean Hospital’s brain imaging center. Her honors include being named runner-up in the INFORMS/Organization Science Dissertation Proposal Competition; finalist for the Best Student Paper Award, MOC Division, Academy of Management; and winner of the OB Division’s Best Symposium Award from the Academy of Management.
Gustavo Schwenkler received his PhD in management science and engineering in 2013 from Stanford University and his diploma in applied mathematics and economics from the University of Cologne. His research focuses on the development of statistical and computational tools for the measurement of financial risks. Prior to pursuing his doctorate, he served as a summer associate in the unit of investment banking strategies at Goldman Sachs; an intern in risk and portfolio management at Sal. Oppenheim, Jr. & Cie.; and an intern in sales and trading at Deutsche Bank. Gustavo’s academic honors include the Gerald J. Lieberman Fellowship and the Stanford Graduate Fellowship, both from Stanford University.
Assistant Professor, Marketing
Monic Sun holds a PhD in economics and an MA in political economy from Boston University, as well as a BA in economics from Peking University, P.R. China. Her scholarship marketing models to topics such as social networks, Internet marketing, and information search and disclosure. Monic was previously a visiting assistant professor of marketing at USC Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California and an assistant professor of marketing at Stanford Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. Her honors include being a finalist for the John D.C. Little Award, the NET Institute Summer Research Grants, and the Management Science Journal Meritorious and Distinguished Service Awards.
Yuan (Estelle) Sun
Assistant Professor, Accounting
Estelle Sun earned both her PhD in accounting in 2013 and her master of science in business administration from the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley, as well as a bachelor of commerce in accounting from the University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Her research focuses on earnings management, accounting fraud, accounting conservatism, voluntary disclosure, and auditing. She has work forthcoming or appearing in the Journal of Accounting & Economics, Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, Accounting and Finance, and the Journal of Contemporary Accounting and Economics. Estelle was awarded both the Crawford Dissertation Fellowship and the Crawford Research Assistant Fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley.
Assistant Professor, Marketing
Georgios Zervas holds a PhD in computer science from Boston University, an MA in interactive media from the London College of Communication, and an MSc and BEng in computer science from Imperial College. Previously a Simons Postdoctoral Fellow in computer science at Yale University, Georgios’s research explores the intersection of economics, marketing, and computer science, identifying unique online phenomena, acquiring novel data through creative web scraping, and applying creative empirical techniques. Among other publications, his paper “The Groupon Effect on Yelp Ratings” appeared in the Proceedings of the 13th ACM Conference on Electronic Commerce. Georgios’s honors include the Departmental Research Achievement Award from Boston University’s computer science department.
Executive Director, Digital Technology
Executive-in-Residence/Lecturer, Information Systems
Ann Halford earned her BA in zoology from the University of Tennessee and an MS in computer science from the University of Memphis. Thirty-six years ago, she began her career as a programmer and has since managed product development and IT organizations. She has worked with a wide variety of technologies—from chips to massively parallel supercomputers. She has had e-commerce, mobile device, and large global data center responsibilities, as well as held various executive positions in both start-ups, including her own, and Fortune 100s. Her past employers include Data General, Alliant Computer Systems, Sun Microsystems, Amadeus Global Travel, and, most recently, Staples.
Lecturer, Organizational Behavior
Paul Hutchinson earned his MS in experiential education from Minnesota State University, Mankato, and BA in history from Gettysburg College. He taught at New England College and Lynchburg College before becoming an adjunct professor at Boston University School of Management, where he now moves to full-time. A frequent conference speaker on experiential education and outdoor education and leadership, his practical experience includes a leadership position in experience-based training at Boston University Metropolitan College and coordinating the Outdoor Adventure and Leadership Development programs at Lynchburg College. Paul is currently writing his dissertation to complete his PhD in American and New England studies at Boston University.
Lecturer, Markets, Public Policy & Law
Gina Powers holds a juris doctor from the New England School of Law and both an MEd and BA in English and communications from Boston College. She is an attorney and sole practitioner in residential and commercial real estate and has served as an expert witness in real estate litigation matters. She has been a guest lecturer at the New England School of Law and instructor for the Greater Boston Real Estate Board. Gina also serves as a director for One Mission, a pediatric cancer foundation, through which she has hosted fundraisers to benefit Children’s Hospital Boston and the Jimmy Fund. Since 2005, she has served as an adjunct professor at the School, now becoming a full-time lecturer.
David Spieler holds an MBA in finance from the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, an MS in civil engineering from Bucknell University, and a BS in civil engineering from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prior to joining SMG full time, David was a managing director in the Valuation Advisory Services practice at Duff & Phelps, LLC, and leader of the firm’s Boston office, managing director with Standard & Poor’s Corporate Value Consulting, and partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was also a senior consultant and the financial management unit leader at Arthur D. Little, Inc. David is a Chartered Financial Analyst who has expertise in business planning and valuation, intellectual property valuation, and providing expert testimony.
Recent Faculty Promotions
Associate Professor, Strategy & Innovation
Samina Karim holds a PhD in corporate strategy from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, a master’s in applied economics from University of Michigan’s economics department, a master’s in education from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Cornell University. A leading expert in the area of corporate restructuring and the reconfiguration of resources and market activities, Samina is especially interested in mobile devices and services, and has extensive experience in the medical sector both in her research and her previous work as an R&D engineer with Hewlett-Packard’s former medical products group.
Associate Professor, Strategy & Innovation
Tim Simcoe received his AB in Applied Math and Economics from Harvard University, and an MA in Economics and PhD in Business Administration from the University of California at Berkeley. An expert in the area of compatibility standards, Tim focuses his research on innovation, science and technology policy, intellectual property, and corporate strategy. Before joining the School of Management, he worked at the University of Toronto and Ernst & Young, LLP. He is a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Dean’s Research Fellow
Academic Co-Lead, Digital Technology Sector
Shuba Srinivasan obtained her MS in physics and MBA in marketing from the Indian Institute of Management, and her PhD in marketing from the University of Texas at Dallas. A professor of marketing, a dean’s research fellow, and academic co-lead in the digital technology sector at the School, Shuba’s research focuses on strategic marketing problems, in particular linking marketing to financial performance. With her co-authors, Shuba was awarded the 2010 Google-WPP research grant for research on audience-based online metrics. Other honors include the 2010 Broderick Prize for excellence in research at the School, as well as the 2001 EMAC best paper award.
Master Lecturer, Finance
Kathryn Griner holds a BA in economics from Wellesley College and an MBA in finance from Harvard Business School. A senior lecturer in finance, Kathryn received the 2001 Broderick Prize for Service to the Undergraduate Programs at the School, as well as served on the academic conduct, scholarship, undergraduate program development, and technology committees. Before joining the School in 1994, Kathryn served as vice president of the investment banking department at Credit Suisse First Boston, advising industrial and technology accounts in the New England region.
Strategy & Innovation Executive-in-Residence
Executive Director, Social Enterprises and Sustainability Sector
Paul McManus received his MBA from Boston University and his BS in mechanical engineering technology from Wentworth Institute of Technology. A lecturer in the Strategy & Innovation department, Paul serves as the executive director of the newly formed Social Enterprise & Environmental Sustainability Initiative, in which he leads the School’s emerging focus on this sector and is responsible for the creation and implementation of related practice-oriented programing for undergraduate and graduate students. Prior to joining the faculty full time in 2006, Paul was the Human Capital Partner at Boston Millennia Partners, a $740M venture capital fund with international investments in early-stage technology ventures in the life sciences, healthcare, medical device, information technology, and telecommunications industries.
Master Lecturer, Markets, Public Policy & Law
Faculty Director, Undergraduate Honors Program
David Randall obtained a BA in political science from Boston University College of Liberal Arts and a JD from Northeastern University School of Law. A senior lecturer of business law, Internet law, privacy law, and real estate law in undergraduate and graduate programs, David serves as the faculty director of the SMG undergraduate honors program and received the Broderick Award for Service to the Undergraduate Program in 2012. He was formerly the president and CEO of Metro Health Foundation, Inc., as well as a part-time lecturer in business law at Babson College.
From Dellarocas, C., Katona, Z., & Rand, W. (2013). Media, aggregators and the link economy: Strategic hyperlink formation in content networks. Management Science, 59 (10), 2360-2379.
In today’s link economy, whether a blogger paraphrases news articles or a fully automated aggregator harvests content from across the web, the pathways between content producers and audiences have become increasingly complex. So how should content producers respond to competition from aggregators and from each other?
How should content producers respond to competition from aggregators and from each other?
A new study from Boston University School of Management’s Chrysanthos Dellarocas, professor of information systems and director of Boston University’s Digital Learning Initiative, together with Zsolt Katona (University of California at Berkeley) and William Rand (University of Maryland), is the first to model the complex, interrelated implications of strategic hyperlinking and investment in content production. Their analysis, demonstrating scenarios in which such links can boost everyone’s profits, thus yields important implications for professional content producers who have until now been reluctant to link to competitors.
When Linking Increases Profits
Addressing questions relevant to both firms and regulators, Dellarocas et al. identify gaps in existing network economics research around the impact of freely established links and the strategies that motivate their formation. For example, what are the effects of linking to competitors, and when should inbound links be refused?
Dellarocas and his co-authors show that although linking can result in low-quality sites free-riding on high-quality content, “in settings where there are evenly matched competitors, the option of placing links across sites may lead to equilibria where some or all sites are better off relative to a no-link setting.”
Links between peer content sites can increase profits by reducing competition, overproduction, and duplication. The intuition is that, instead of each site expending resources to produce what is essentially duplicate content, everyone can benefit if one site specializes in producing really good content and other sites link to it. Sites that invest in high-quality content benefit from additional referred traffic, while those publishing the links become trusted hubs that attract visitors without having to pay the cost of content production. Different sites might specialize in producing content on different topics, one on politics and another on sports, for example. Thus, all sites produce the type of content they are best at and link to the rest. In this scenario, consumers benefit all-round.
The authors point out that the above scenario can sustain the market entry of inefficient players, allowing them to free-ride on the success of other content sites by linking to them, potentially denting the revenues of target sites. Still, no content site would benefit from unilaterally blocking such links, because then free-riding sites would simply link to their competitors.
The Impact of Aggregators
Acknowledging that aggregators ‘steal’ traffic from content sites, the authors also point out that, “by making it easier for consumers to access good content, aggregators increase the attractiveness of the entire content ecosystem and, thus, also attract traffic away from alternative media.”
While aggregators may direct more traffic to high-quality sites, they also take away a slice of profits from content sites. This happens because some aggregator visitors check article headlines and snippets at the aggregator but never click through to the original articles. Furthermore, aggregators tend to increase competition between content sites. This may boost quality but reduce content producer profits.
See more about “Media, Aggregators and the Link Economy: Strategic Hyperlink Formation in Content Networks,” at Management Science.
Media references SMG assistant professor’s paper “Fake it Till You Make it”
The Wall Street Journal has repeatedly spotlighted the research of Georgios Zervas, Boston University School of Management assistant professor of marketing, on the consequences of fake online reviews. Both the Journal’s Corporate Intelligence blog and its “Morning Risk Report,” which provides insights and news on governance, risk, and compliance, featured recent posts on the writing and solicitation of fake online reviews.
One post, “Fake Reviews Raise Reputation Stakes,” was prompted by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s targeting fraudulent online reviewers this week under his new initiative “Operation Clean Turf,” a yearlong undercover investigation into the reputation management industry, the manipulation of consumer-review websites, and the practice of astroturfing.
Zervas notes that the consequences for writing and soliciting fake reviews are very low and that, for anyone with a computer, crafting a fake review is simple. He is quoted saying:
“The New York attorney general is trying to increase the cost of being uncovered as a fraudster. I think it’s a small first step in the right direction.”
Zervas, who completed his PhD in 2011 in computer science at Boston University, also explains that the problem of fake reviews extends beyond New York’s borders. His paper “Fake it Till You Make it” was co-authored with Harvard Business School assistant professor Michael Luca.
Focusing on the issue of fake restaurant reports, BBC News, in the article “Yelp admits a quarter of submitted reviews could be fake,” writes,
Michael Luca of Harvard Business School and Georgios Zervas of Boston University studied the incidence of fraudulent reviews of Boston restaurants posted to Yelp, including those that had been filtered out.
After analysing more than 310,000 reviews of 3,625 restaurants, they found that negative fake reviews occurred in response to increased competition, while positive fake reviews were used to strengthen a weak reputation or to counteract unflattering reviews.